Every fall and winter, harbor seals come into the Merrimack River. They congregate just opposite our camping site so every day, we walked through the dunes down to the beach to observe them. (Those are seals “resting” in the photo to the left. They are very much a local attraction — to campers and day visitors to Salisbury State Park Reservation.
Named common seal throughout Europe, this seal frequently observed around Long Island lives along the shores of eastern Canada, New England and in the winter, as far south as the Carolinas in a variety of habitats. Their scientific name loosely means “sea calf” or “sea dog.” This latter nickname is well suited as these seals closely resemble a dog when their head is viewed at the surface of the water.
When they were out on the rocks, they lie with their heads and hind flippers elevated in a “banana-like” position. We saw them in the channel, in what is called the “bottling” position, with heads tilted straight back and perpendicular to the surface; thus assuming the appearance of a floating bottle.